The backlash from the decision of some of Sale Sharks’ players not to take the knee last weekend has provoked a passionate response from Renaldo Bothma, the former Harlequins flanker. 

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Amid a fallout that Sale director of rugby Steve Diamond has dismissed as a “storm in a teacup”, eleven of the starting XV opted not to take the knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement ahead of the Sharks’ Gallagher Premiership loss to Quins at the Stoop on Friday.

The Sale players who did not kneel before the match were Springbok World Cup winning pair Faf de Klerk and Lood de Jager‚ twins Jean-Luc and Daniel du Preez‚ their older brother Robert‚ Akker van der Merwe‚ Coenie Oosthuizen and club captain Jono Ross. 

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England’s Manu Tuilagi, Scotland wing Byron McGuigan and Wales prop WillGriff John also stood. They did, however, wear the Rugby Against Racism t-shirts, which is the Premiership’s new campaign. 

Gloucester’s Ruan Ackermann also stood before his club’s game with Worcester the following day on a weekend where Premiership clubs had all agreed on various ways to signal their support for the BLM movement.

Since then, Nathi Mthethwa, the South African Minister of Sports, Arts, and Culture, has asked for an explanation as to why so many players took this stance. The South Africa-born Namibia international Bothma offered a response on social media. 

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He said: “I will never take a knee to anyone else than GOD! Where are all these ministers when we need to take a knee for farm murders in South Africa and take action against corruption? We all can decide what we want to do! NOBODY HAS ANY RIGHT TO FORCE SOMEONE TO GO ON THEIR KNEES!”

The reaction of Bothma, who left Quins over the summer, offered a brief insight into the complicated political backdrop that is perhaps motivating the players to take this stance. No players involved have responded yet and, as Diamond stressed, this is not something he deems too noteworthy.

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